Join Director of the Polk School, Robin Hemley, and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, Rita Banerjee, as they engage in a lively discussion in the fourth of the 2021 season’s Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?” The series highlights the career paths and accomplishments of of successful writers, journalists, scientists, adventurers, activists, filmmakers and more, all of whom have made a difference by learning to be powerful communicators and to tell stories that count.
David Shieldsis the internationally bestselling author of twenty-three books, including The Very Last Interview(forthcoming from NYRB, March 2022), Reality Hunger (recently named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by LitHub), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (NYT bestseller), Black Planet (finalist for NBCC award), and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (NYTBR Editors’ Choice). He produced, wrote, and directed, Lynch: A History, a 2019 documentary about Marshawn Lynch’s use of silence, echo, and mimicry as key tools of resistance. Shields’s work has been translated into two dozen languages.
Writers House is an undergraduate learning community at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Writers House provides a gateway to the experience of creativity and serves as a laboratory for developing expression in all the media of the twenty-first century. At Writers House, students can work on poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, autobiography, grant-writing, nature writing, and screenwriting. They can also collaborate on documentary film-making, multimedia composition, and web design. The goal of Writers House is to give students direct access to writing’s constructive and life-changing powers for personal and social good. The entrance to Writers House has no doors. All are welcome.
RITA BANERJEE is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing program at LIU Brooklyn. She is the author of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, Echo in Four Beats, the novella“A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps, and Cracklers at Night. Her work appearsin Hunger Mountain, Isele, Nat. Brut., Poets & Writers, Academy of American Poets, Los Angeles Review of Books, Vermont Public Radio, and elsewhere. She is a co-writer of Burning Down the Louvre (2022), a documentary film about race, intimacy, and tribalism in the United States and in France. She received a 2021-2022 Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council for her new memoir and manifesto on female cool, and one of the opening chapters of this new memoir, “Birth of Cool” was a Notable Essay in the 2020 Best American Essays.You can follow her work at ritabanerjee.com
CASSANDRA GILLIG is a writer, archivist, and musician who lives in Kansas City. She writes about policing and gentrification for the Kansas City Defender and co-organizes the Stray Cat Film Center, where she runs the Institute for Whoopi Goldberg Studies. She graduated from Rutgers in 2014 with degrees in English and WGS and still owes $19,000 in student loans. More at orlandogillig.blogspot.com.
BECCA KLAVER is a writer, teacher, editor, scholar, and literary collaboration conjurer. She is the author of the poetry collections LA Liminal (Kore Press, 2010), Empire Wasted (Bloof Books, 2016), and Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), as well as several chapbooks. Midwinter Constellation, a book cowritten with 31 other poets in homage to Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day, will be published in 2022. As an editor, she cofounded Switchback Books; is currently coediting the anthology Electric Gurlesque; and has created pop-up journals such as Women Poets Wearing Sweatpants and Across the Social Distances. She lives in Chicago. For more see: https://beccaklaver.com/.
Join Director of the Polk School, Robin Hemley, and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, Rita Banerjee, as they engage in a lively discussion in the third of the 2021 season’s Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?” The series highlights the career path and accomplishments of of successful writers, journalists, scientists, adventurers, activists, filmmakers and more, all of whom have made a difference by learning to be powerful communicators and to tell stories that count.
Today’s discussion will be with science writer and essayist Susanne Paola Antonetta.
Susanne Paola Antonetta’s newest book is The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here. Forthcoming is The Devil’s Castle. Previous books include Entangled Objects, Make Me a Mother,Curious Atoms,Body Toxic, and A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World. Awards for her writing include a New York Times Notable Book, an American Book Award, a Library Journal Best Science book of the year, an Amazon Top Ten memoir listing, and others. Her work has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, the UK Independent, The New Republic, CNN, and many other publications
Join Director of the Polk School, Robin Hemley, and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, Rita Banerjee, as they engage in a lively discussion in the second of the 2021 season’s Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?” The series highlights the career path and accomplishments of of successful writers, journalists, scientists, adventurers, activists, filmmakers and more, all of whom have made a difference by learning to be powerful communicators and to tell stories that count.
Today’s discussion will be with best-selling author and essayist, Carvell Wallace.
Carvell Wallaceis a New York Times Bestselling author, essayist, and podcaster. He covers arts, culture, race, and sports for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Esquire, The New Yorker, and others. He is the co-author of 2017’s bestseller The Sixth Man which explored race in the NBA, and his Peabody-nominated podcast Finding Fred explored the moral and political questions underlying Fred Rogers teachings. He has guest lectured at New York University, the University of Iowa Graduate Writing Program, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the UC Berkeley Journalism program. He is currently working on a memoir exploring trauma and love in personal relationships. He lives in Oakland and is the father of two.
Join Director of the Polk School, Robin Hemley, and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, Rita Banerjee, as they engage in a lively discussion in the first of the 2021 season’s Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?” The series highlights the career path and accomplishments of of successful writers, journalists, scientists, adventurers, activists, filmmakers and more, all of whom have made a difference by learning to be powerful communicators and to tell stories that count.
Their will be with best-selling author and neuroscientist, David Linden.
David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular basis of memory storage, recovery of function after brain injury and a few other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and served for many years as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He is the author of four bestselling books on the biology of behavior for a general audience, The Accidental Mind (2007), The Compass of Pleasure (2011), Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind (2015), and Unique: The Science of Human Individuality which, to date, have been translated into 21 languages. He also edited a collection of short essays on brain function written for a general audience: Think Tank: Forty Neuroscientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience (2018). His has appeared on the TED Radio Hour, Fresh Air with Terry Gross and many other media outlets
In Rita Banerjee’s new memoir and manifesto, she demonstrates that for women, and especially young women of color, keeping one’s cool is a psychic shield against social trauma. Cultivating female cool is what allows women to subvert social, sexual, and economic pressure. The memoir follows Banerjee as she keeps her cool through 9/11, the 2008 and 2020 stock market crashes, #MeToo, Trumpism, and the pandemic, and in doing so, finds her own agency and self-expression.
Among this year’s Creation Grant winning proposals are works that span visual arts, literary arts, dance, music, film, and multidisciplinary fields, including a music video exploring unjust land ownership for African Americans; a nonfiction book tracing five generations beginning in Iran and ending in Vermont; a tintype photography series capturing Vermont women and aging; and several works exploring social justice themes.
Artistic excellence is the most important criteria in evaluating an application for this highly competitive award. A record 202 applications were received for the FY2022 program, collectively requesting a total of $808,000.
The Council typically has funding to support approximately 12-15% of requests for the annual grant. But thanks to the Vermont Community Foundation’s Arts Endowment Fund, along with generous contributions from Vermont Performance Lab and individual donors, the Council was able to provide eight additional Creation Grants this year.
Recipients were selected by two independent panels comprised of 28 practicing Vermont artists and arts professionals. Applicants could submit audio or video files for their proposals in place of written applications.
“The range of artistic talent in Vermont takes my breath away,” said Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Karen Mittelman. “We are pleased that new partnerships and generous private donations — so vital in this pandemic year — have enabled us to support the creative endeavors of twenty-three outstanding artists.”
“Birth of Cool” is a braided essay about 9/11, love, coolness, and the death of her grandfather, her first icon of “cool.” In “Birth of Cool,” Rita Banerjee examines her growing infatuation with everything styled and aestheticized. She investigates how 9/11 signaled the death of irony, but not of cool, which she imparts from her idols, from Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix to MTV and Jon Stewart. In “Birth of Cool,” Banerjee explains why she chose a life of aesthetics, style, and emotional distance over that of politics, righteousness, and explicit social engagement. In this essay, she confronts her own agency and observes how her own sense of cool is birthed as a coping mechanism against social trauma.
Plato argues that human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. And before staging Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Śākuntalā, the director challenges his actress-lover: “As though in a painting, the entire audience has had their emotion colored through your melody. So now—what shall we perform to sustain the mood?” In this class, we will explore how creating vivid emotional worlds between characters and within storylines can build suspense, sustain drama, and lure the reader deeper in. If you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatrical play, lyrical essay, memoir, or narrative poem which has a unique emotional landscape, come stop by the Ruth Stone House for our next online creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee on October 2 and October 10, 2021. Students will read Rita Banerjee’s article, “Emotion and Suspense: The Essence of Rasa Theory” from Poets & Writers Magazine, do in-class writing exercises centering rasa, emotion, and suspense, and share out their work with classmates. Register at the Ruth Stone House. Workshop Fee: $150 for 2 Sessions.
Rita Banerjee joins theSouth Asian Avant-Garde, an international collective of South Asian artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, and activists, as an Editor-at-Large. The SAAG Collective is currently producing theSouth Asian Avant-Garde: A Dissident Literary Anthology, a forthcoming anthology that features dissident fiction, essays, journalism, plays, poetry, and hybrid, multimedia work. It reclaims radical traditions that have long been excised from South Asian histories, and forges new communities and reinforces necessary solidarities. The digital platform allows work to travel everywhere South Asians live and practice.
In terms of its mission, SAAG states:
“Transgression, experimentation, and true radicalism are rare and expensive in a world structured around majoritarian consensus, conformity, and party-line loyalism. This is especially true for minority voices, who are routinely devalued. We must value creative labor, no excuses. Your support will go directly to the multitude of writers and artists who will be contributing to this project. In our shared commitment to respect creative labor, we’re happy to be partnering with the Asian American Writer’s Workshop, whilst reaching South Asians everywhere.”